Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


Daytona Beach, FL


Architecture, Interior Design

Described by TIME magazine as “The Harvard of the Sky,” Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is the world’s largest aviation and aerospace university. The school’s 185-acre campus in Daytona Beach serves 6,000 students and dates to 1965. After the former administrative building was destroyed by a tornado, the University called on Gresham Smith to turn tragedy into opportunity. The new 30,000-square-foot Jim Henderson Administration and Welcome Center is an iconic building that has become ERAU’s defining image.

square feeet
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Exterior of welcome center

A Contemporary Design

ERAU envisioned a space that would make a dramatic and memorable impression on prospective students, alumni and donors. Our design team’s design captured the spirit of flying with sweeping curves, foils and expanses. We incorporated aeronautical references in other spaces as well: the roof’s shape mimics an airplane wing, while the interior floor pattern reflects fluid dynamics used in aerospace engineering. The timeless, durable materials include poured-in-place concrete, exposed form ties, white metal panels and reflective glass.

Interior of welcome center

Form Meets Function

The building is as functional as it is beautiful. The south side of the building houses the University’s administrative offices, with a boardroom, hospitality suite and meeting space for board members, donors and visiting dignitaries. The north side of the building features a multipurpose room with an operable wall and is able to accommodate a variety of guests.

Exterior of welcome center

Honoring ERAU’s History

The Center houses an interactive exhibit of ERAU’s history and frames the campus’ Legacy Walk, a wide promenade that runs through the heart of campus to ERAU’s flight line at Daytona Beach International Airport. Different points along the walk commemorate the history of flight and its path runs right to the entry door of the facility.

We’re pleased that Gresham Smith’s design takes us to the next level and helps us stand out from the crowd. The new welcome center is exactly what we wanted: an expressive, aeronautics-inspired building in the heart of campus that helps our world-class university to better compete for students and funding. John P. Johnson Embry-Riddle University